Oh Really, Mr. O’Reilly? Opinion pundit versus the Dominion of Canada

Once again, I sat in a chair in the old lady’s bedroom watching Fox News. Why? Because she does all day, every day. It was coming up on quitting time. I knew this because the O’Reilly Factor was drawing to its normal close with the highly edited, carefully selected, mail from the viewers segment.

Suddenly, my somnambulant brain was brusquely awakened. Bill O’Reilly was reading a letter from a viewer in Canada, who suggested something along the lines of:

“When you said Britain was the closest ally the US has, you were wrong. Canada is.”

As a Canadian living in the US, I often feel starved for news of home, and as Canada is mentioned so rarely down here, I paid attention.

Mr. O’Reilly’s face twisted into a pained expression. His mouth opened while his head was shaking and words came out. This isn’t verbatim, because I wasn’t poised pen in hand to take notes at the time.

“Perhaps once that might have been so. But you have veered so far to the left, and your socialist, nanny-state tendencies and Iraq have caused a distance between us,”-- Thursday, August 25, 2011

"Oh really, Mr. O’Reilly?" I thought to myself. Canada is gone too far left to be an ally ... but Britain has not? (Think about it.) Sure thing, comrade.

Then I put old Bill and the program out of my mind for the moment and prepared my client for the night ahead.

But those words came back to me on the drive home, and I pondered them.

As often happens, I decided I had to research this.

And I did.

Here’s what I found in the “no spin” zone:

Bill spent several minutes one night trashing Canada’s healthcare system.

A few nights later, a question came from a viewer named Peter from Victoria, BC, who asked: "Has anyone noticed that life expectancy in Canada under our health system is higher than the USA?"

Bill's response:" Well, that's to be expected Peter, because we have 10 times as many people as you do. That translates to 10 times as many accidents, crimes, down the line."

The question came in the form of an email, so O’Reilly had lots of time to prepare an answer. Now I ask you...

I saw this program and of course it made an impression. I laughed loud and long. Here's a link to the video, 'cause this one has to be seen.


We have some questions about that

"I got nothing against the Canadian people but in the last few years you've swung dramatically to the left. And we in America have some questions about that." – Bill O’Reilly, May 2, 2003

Do we assume “the last few years” actually means what it says – the last few years? Because the programs to which Bill seems to take such exception, namely universal health care and social assistance have been around since the ‘60’s. Hardly a recent left turn, if you ask me.

We’ve not gone through any recent great ideological change that we Canadians are aware of. We are not as socialist as say… the United Kingdom, your number one ally, for example.

Oh don’t take the names of our political parties seriously: Liberals, Progressive Conservative (try saying that with a straight face) and New Democrat Party. Believe me, there’s not an inch of difference among them. The Liberals aren’t all that liberal. The Conservatives are not very conservative. And the NDP, well no one’s really sure what they’ll turn out to be, but after the last election, they do head up the opposition. They’re just names. Put them in office and it quickly becomes a case of same manure, different pile.

Possibly why we have so many elections…

But Mr. O’Reilly wouldn’t know any of this anyway. He’s proven himself abysmally ignorant as to what’s really going on in Canada and woefully misinformed – as we’re about to find out.

Perhaps Canada is as Canada has always been, and it is America that has moved sharply to the right. Perhaps this has skewed Mr. O’Reilly’s vision. There's no doubt that what used to be right, Reagan’s policies, for example, are now center or even left of center, and what used to be center, is now left.

What used to be left is now “far-left,” one of Bill’s favorite expressions that he uses twenty plus times per show. No one is simply of a liberal frame of mind, or progressive. No – they are “far-left.” Don’t believe me? Watch a show and count.

But I digress.

And “we in America have questions about that.” I see.

Why? Since when did the internal affairs of Canada require Mr. O’Reilly’s approval? Or any other American’s for that matter. Who is this “we”, he speaks of? The royal “we”, no doubt. And if Canada doesn’t toe the line according to Bill's rather restricted values, she is no longer an ally. At least if old Bill has anything to say about it – and he will.

For someone who claims to be a great patriot and champion of freedom, he is remarkably intolerant of divergent views, criticism or dissent, either in individuals or nations. His show is littered with charges that someone is unpatriotic, a pinhead, or (gasp!) doesn't "support our brave and heroic troops," is a "far-left" whackadoo, or even treasonous. Anyone who questions O'Reilly's vision of America, the white knight, fully-virtuous, "noble" and "exceptional" by even the tiniest fraction of a hint, is at best "misguided," but usually worse -- much worse.

Good thing he’s just another windbag blowing noise on TV. Or is he?

Another good question -- but for a later date, perhaps.

I went on in my research, sure I would find those details I need to fully understand Mr. O’Reilly’s grand objections to Canada and all things Canadian.

Let’s move forward. We have a long way to go.

General misinformation

“Canada can't help us anyway. They have no military to speak of. And the socialistic system they have there has nearly bankrupted them.” – Bill O’Reilly, December 11, 2003, Talking Points Memo

Do I hear the hum of something spinning? I think so, because in 2003, Canada’s Finance Minister, John Manley announced Canada’s budget surplus for the fiscal year to be a healthy $7 billion – and the entire amount was used to pay down the national debt.

Even now, in 2011, with an unemployment rate of around 7%, and real estate values and the market recovering and the Canadian dollar doing just fine as we continue to recover from the 2008 fiasco, (thanks!) Canada is far from bankrupt -- unlike some other countries I might mention.

As to Canada’s “non-existent” military, they’ve been spilling their blood in Afghanistan for far too long. Canadians want them out of there. Period. Afghanistan is a black hole that has sucked dry anyone who has attempted to interfere since the beginning of history. If they're not ready to defend their own country by now, they never will be. We should just get the hell out. It’s a quagmire without end.

But again, I digress. O’Reilly’s right. Canada is no great military power. Nothing like the United States whose military expenditure is greater than the next 27 military powers combined – 22 of which are allies (at least until O'Reilly decides different.)

And yes, Canada should improve her military, not to interfere with other nations at any foreign power’s behest, but to better serve Canada.

Storm clouds gathering to the south

Spin

"Canadians should understand that storm clouds are gathering to the south…. One more cheap shot, one more unnecessary taunt, one more insult directed at the USA by you or your minions, and I'll give you a very accurate long-range forecast. It's gonna get mighty cold mighty fast west of the St. Lawrence." - Bill O'Reilly April 19, 2003

Reality

This was O’Reilly’s reaction to Canada’s stance against the Iraq War. (Good to know that the Maritimes will be spared Bill's wrath.)

Well, sorry to tell you, Bill, but free nations can and do make up their own minds as to when to go to war and with whom and why. You can rant and rave all you want, but Canada saw no reason to go into Iraq. If it makes you feel any better, it was a highly divisive issue for the country. Not all Canadians felt that way. Canada did, however, send more troops into Afghanistan to free up American troops for that purpose. Not the act of an ally? Apparently not, says O'Reilly.

Canada is not America’s dog, to blindly follow no matter where, and brought to heel and punished if it does not. Canada’s intelligence said there was no reason to invade Iraq. The cover idea of toppling a tyrant came later, as a duck blind, when no weapons of mass destruction were found, nor any other credible threat to the west, and though the world is a better place without Hussein, it remains a paradox that the other fifty or sixty miserable dictators of the world, particularly those in non-oil producing nations don’t merit equal consideration.

And while we’re on the subject of Iraq, wasn’t it Mr. Bill O’Reilly himself who told his 3 million viewers

“… if, if the Americans go in and overthrow Saddam Hussein and it's clean, he has nothing, I will apologize to the nation, and I will not trust the Bush Administration again, all right? But I'm giving my government the benefit of the doubt. . . . “ – March 18, 2003

And almost a full year later, after much public pressure, he finally made good his word (rather truculently, I might add.)

"I was wrong. I am not pleased about it at all and I think all Americans should be concerned about this…What do you want me to do, go over and kiss the camera?" –on ABC's "Good Morning America," Feb. 10, 2004

I only bring it up as it goes to credibility (as the lawyers say.) Who is Bill O'Reilly to be threatening nations? “Nice country you have there. Be terrible if something were to happen to it….”

Talk about a colossal ego! Mr. O’Reilly, you are nothing but a talking head pushing a product on TV. Get a grip!

Canada and how the “fall of religion” is destroying her society

Spin

“But if the secularists can destroy religion in the public arena, the brave new progressive world is a possibility. That's what happened in Canada. The fall of religion in Canada has corresponded to the rise in progressive public policy. Most Canadians now favor gay marriage. The age of consent for sex is 14 years. That means if you're an adult and you have sex with a 15-year-old, that's fine. Welfare's double what it is in the USA. And the Canadian military is almost non-existent. Drug decriminalization is a reality, as is any kind of abortion. The Canadian model is what progressive Americans are shooting for.” – Bill O’Reilly, December 24, 2004, Talking Points Memo

Reality

Canada’s “rise in progressive public policy” (meaning what exactly?) is a bad thing? Surely, the future Canadian society chooses is up to Canadians, and not the call of some Fox News personality, no matter how big his sense of self-importance. Interestingly, in a recent study of which country’s populations were considered the “happiest,” Canada rated third (after Sweden and Norway.) It is a free country, a wealthy country, a prosperous country – and a "happy" country, so what’s the problem?

So, we favor gay marriage. Big deal. So do many Americans, but then I suppose they’re all “pinheads,” too.

Sorry, Mr. O’Reilly, but if you’re an adult and have sex with a fifteen year old in Canada, you’ll go to jail. According to the Canada Criminal Code, the age of consent in Canada is fourteen providing their partner is no more than two years older. Canada doesn’t prosecute or persecute teenagers for having innocent sex. What would be the point? (I thought O’Reilly prided himself on checking his facts.)

Welfare is double what it is in the US? Meaning what: that we pay recipients double? That we have double the number of people on welfare? Let’s see: the best figures I can find are for 2005. In Canada, there were 1,670,000 Canadians (including dependents) receiving welfare. In the US, 2,000,000 needy families (families, not individuals) received welfare (not including food stamps and other assistance programs) which is down by half compared to the 5,000,000 recipients in 1995. However, over 45 million Americans receive food stamps – which is also welfare, is it not? And these are only federal numbers and don’t include those cared for by their respective counties. Now might be a good time to mention, poverty in the US is greater and more grievous than in Canada. See a correlation?

The Canadian military may be “almost non-existent” in comparison to the level of American forces, but then so is the military might of most nations.

Regarding our tolerant drug policies, only marijuana has been decriminalized, that is, possession of small amounts of the substance is no longer a criminal act, not legalized. It just doesn’t make sense to Canadians to jail people for smoking pot, a victimless crime. Too expensive, for one. Mr. O'Reilly's rant on legalized heroin in Vancouver was as misinformed as so much else pouring from his mouth. Vancouver set up a safe injection site. The city has applied to Health and Welfare Canada to set up a clinic for addicts, where heroin may be prescribed as a last ditch effort to clean up the drug-riddled downtown area. Mr. O'Reilly may not have noticed that the "war on drugs" has many casualties, but drug use is not one of those. Saying "no" and imposing harsh punishment on addicts does little to correct the problem, and much to fill prisons. If Vancouver wants to try a different method, that's not a TV personality's call.

Bill's right, abortion is not illegal. The Canadian Supreme Court refused to hear the issue, therefore Canada doesn’t have an abortion law, and as silence must be construed as consent, yes, abortions are legal. Are they not also legal in the US?

As to religion, here’s the figures from a recent poll as I found them: in the United States 60% said religion is very important to them, 23% said religion is fairly important. In Canada, 28% said religion is very important and 34% say fairly important. But go visit that great ally, Great Britain, where 17% consider religion very important and 30% say fairly important.

However, I am not sure I agree with O’Reilly’s main thesis that a progressive world whose governance places less reliance on religion would be a bad thing. (Neither were the American founding fathers.) Or that only religious people (or nations) know right from wrong.

Fox was refused a license for Fox News Canada but allowed to sell US Feed to Cable

Spin

"If you had us up there to balance CNN, you'd give people a choice, they'd hear other points of view. Not conservative points of view - this is not a conservative network.. I am not the “ultra-conservative loon” portrayed by your press. I am the victim of a far left-wing smear campaign. – Bill OReilly, as quoted in CP Press release Toronto March 4, 2004

Reality

Here’s where I think Mr. O’Reilly’s real grudge with Canada comes from. The CRTC (the broadcasting commission in Canada) had, until 2005, refused Fox News a license to broadcast in Canada, citing legislation in Canada's Radio Act which requires that "a licenser may not broadcast any false, biased or misleading news." By the way, America had a similar law until it was struck down by the Reagan administration, thus making it legal to lie to the public.

As a result, Fox News was not allowed to open a Fox News Canada channel, but in 2005, the US feed of American Fox News (with no plans for a Fox News Canada) was given the go ahead and picked up by some cable providers.

For the first time, Canadians could watch this “not a conservative network” (cough! cough!) in their own living rooms, and not just from sound-bites picked up on other news shows, or when visiting the US. Over to the left are some goodies selected from various sources that let you know what Canadians actually got to see.

What Canadians are priveledged to see and hear from Fox News

Regarding Canada's leaders speaking out on Kyoto, and on Iraq, and Canada's complaints on tarrifs on soft lumber.

"The fact of the matter is -- whether it's your prime minister badmouthing this country over its refusal to sign on to the Kyoto Accord; or whether it's Iraq; or whether its tariffs we slapped on your country because we think your country is cheating on a variety of issues. It's again and again and again. What I'm asking you, whether the Canadian people hate America as much as your politicians seem to?" -- Neil Cavuto, host of Fox News' Your World, during a segment on Canada-US relations, December 14 2005. Throughout the segment, on-screen text read "CANADA: AN ENEMY OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA?"

Dear Neil, Why is disagreeing with you considered bad-mouthing?

Regarding Canada’s refusal to go to war in Iraq:

"There is also something called, when you're allowed to exist on the same continent as the United States of America, protecting you with a nuclear shield around you, you're polite and you support us when we've been attacked on our own soil. They [Canada] violated that protocol." - Ann Coulter on the November 30 2005 FOX News' Hannity & Colmes

Actually, Ann, during the cold war, if the USSR had fired missiles at the US, and if the US had retaliated, many those missiles would have passed each other over Canada (polar routes being the most efficient.) Considering Canada sits between these two powers, chances are we’d have been annihilated anyway, not by merciful explosions but by long term poisoning. So thanks for the “protection.”

By the way, something Canadians have always wondered, who are we being protected from? In truth, America is protecting herself, and her best interests lie in keeping enemies far away from her borders. Any "protection" Canada may have garnered from American nuclear arms was a side-effect.

Further, Canada did support the US following the 9/11 attack in more ways than you have obviously heard, or thought about.

Another gem:

"They [Canada] better hope the United States doesn't roll over one night and crush them. They are lucky we allow them to exist on the same continent." - Ann Coulter on the November 30 2004 edition of FOX News' Hannity & Colmes, a clip replayed many times since

What’s to say to this one? Oh thank you for not crushing us.

On the same show:

"Conservatives, as a general matter, take the position that you should not punish your friends and reward your enemies. And Canada has become trouble recently... It's -- I suppose it's always, I might add, the worst Americans who end up going there. The Tories after the Revolutionary War, the Vietnam draft dodgers after Vietnam. And now you have the blue-state people moving up there."

How has Canada become trouble? By not blindly agreeing with everything the U.S. says and does? Does the term sovereign nation mean anything? Friend and ally does not mean "yes man."

Oh, and I might add: I say, welcome to Canada you worst of Americans.

Anne Coulter on Canada

"We could have taken them [Canada] over so easily... [But] all I want is the western portion, the ski areas, the cowboys, and the right-wingers." -- from Above

.... As Ann recently found out when students at the University of Ottawa protested Coulter's planned speech, and her talk was cancelled, perhaps Canada doesn't want her.

Fox News ridicules Canada and the Canadians who've died in Afghanistan

2009 Adding fuel to the prevailing desire in Canada to get our men and women out of Afghanistan came the news that 4 more dead Canadians were on their way home. Said one of my correspondents in Ontario, speaking of the number of deaths from his small town home, “We haven’t seen a flag at full mast for weeks – it’s been that bad.”

Now, in 2011, it has been ten long years since December 15, 2001 when Canadian troops were first deployed. With all the losses and sacrifice, things appear no better. We received daily reports of resurgent Taliban, while our troops put their lives on the line for a population that changes allegiance like most of us change underwear. Not long ago, these people hung an eight-year-old boy. A few months past, a heart-wrenching video hit Youtube of a young Afghani woman given a public beating for the crime of “flirting.”

Reports of gross corruption amongst Afghan leaders cross the wires every day.

The ensuing debate over this decision prompted a columnist from the Globe and Mail, John Doyle, to write:

Beauty. Bring it on, I say. We're all in need of a good laugh. The barking-mad Fox News Channel is something that most Canadians have only heard about. It's time we saw it for ourselves, and made up our own minds about the phenomenon. We'll find out if this Bill O'Reilly fella is as stupendously pompous and preening as he appears to be in the rare clips we see of Fox News.”

Which in turn roused O’Reilly to retaliate and take aim at the “far left” Globe and Mail:

“So they see rare clips, but think we're laughable. The Globe and Mail sounds like a real responsible enterprise, doesn't it? Hey you pinheads up there, I may be pompous, but at least I'm honest.”

Which admittedly, for O’Reilly is a mild reaction. However, fans of the no-spin zone, wrote hundreds and hundreds of flaming emails – some of which Doyle published. I’ve picked out one to share here.

To: Doyle, John

Subject: Your article

Why don't you just shut your damn [explective] mouth. Your lucky we don't attack Canada next. We hate [expletive] communists here. [expletive] you and your shit stain of a country. You’re a [explective] [explective.]

Along with these letters, Doyle appended the following comment:

“The very idea that The Globe and Mail is ''far left'' only proves my point that the Fox News Channel is the most hilarious thing on American TV since ''Seinfeld.'' ... The people who support Fox News must be the most uncivil and foul-mouthed creatures on the planet. This is an informed opinion. They'd give soccer hooligans a run for their money.”

O’Reilly countered with a “letter” from a Canadian, who apparently was too frightened to sign a name because he/she feared retribution from the government. (To my American friends: as a Canadian who also watched American TV with an “illegal” satellite and with more experience of that country than you, I would suggest this person also wore tinfoil on the head to protect from the government produced mind-control rays.)

''We need fair and balanced news from Fox because The Globe and Mail and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation are so far left. The CBC is called by many the Communist Broadcasting Corporation. Please don't use my last name because I don't want the government to know that I'm illegally watching Fox on the satellite. You see, we're allowed to hear only what they want us to hear.''

So Doyle, spin that. You're clueless.

The next episode in this “border war” was an influx of letters to Doyle from Americans apologizing for O’Reilly and the emails.

To: Doyle, John

Subject: May I apologize?

Dear Mr. Doyle,

“... Whenever I hear of something like this happening, I feel compelled to apologize on behalf of civilized Americans throughout the United States. Most of the people who live in this country are neither extreme liberals nor extreme right-wingers. Most of the people who live in this country do not believe the political or social dialogue is advanced by name-calling…”

Which of course, Doyle published.

And it would all have disappeared, a minor fracas between two “news” personalities, much to everyone’s relief, but then… The New York Times picked up the story.

Meaningless, according to O'Reilly, as the Times is also a "far-left" piece of yellow journalism.

Worse, CBC’s award winning documentary program, The Fifth Estate, did a program entitled “Sticks and Stones” about the inflammatory dialogue of the American political scene, devoting a good ten minutes to the “loudest mouth of all”, Bill O’Reilly. They included film clips showing O’Reilly cutting off his guests comments, (Why does he even have guests, I’ve often wondered. He never lets them speak.) shouting shut-up eight times and even turning off microphones when he doesn’t like what they say, and one instance with Phil Donahue where he told his guest to “Be careful what you say or you’re out of here!”

It was summed up as “what O’Reilly wants is diatribe, not debate.”

Said O’Reilly:

"The Canadian government gives these people $1 billion of Canadian tax money, and the Canadian government is at fault here for allowing this kind of stuff to go on."

Uh – Bill, the government can’t tell the CBC what to say, or what not to say. It’s called the freedom of the press.

Many of us ask why? Why are we there?

10 years and the combined forces of 34 nations can’t rid that nation of the Taliban – how can that be? It can only be because the Afghanis choose to let them be there.

In 2009, Canada reluctantly gave agreement to President Obama to postpone pulling out for another 16 months, making the new date for withdrawal sometime in late 2011. This was not well received by much of the Canadian people.

Those were the feelings in March of 2009, when news of four more deaths reached home. The bodies were scheduled to return home four days later.

Unhappily, Fox News chose that very day to air the following program.

Gutfeld either was ignorant of or deliberately withheld from the audience the fact that the Canadian military is fighting in one of the most dangerous pockets in Afghanistan and has suffered a disproportionately high number of casualties (in 2008 2.6 - 4 times higher than British or American soldiers in Afghanistan and 2.6 times higher than the death toll of U.S. Soldiers in Iraq).

When Lieutenant General Andrew Leslie announced a “year-long break from operations when its current mission in Afghanistan ends in 2011 – he was referring to a withdrawal that had been planned since 2009.

By the way, the RCMP wear khaki, carry a full range of arms, drives appropriately equipped cars, uses the latest police protective gear and is one of the most highly respected police forces in the world.

“Isn't this the perfect time to invade this ridiculous country?” Gutfeld

It would seem that Canada's primary need for protection is from her so-called "protectors."

The "controlled" media of Canada

Spin

“Add to that a controlled media in Canada. FOX News isn't allowed up there. We're petitioning, but they not real anxious to have us up there. All right? They got their CBC -- government-controlled, Left -- and they got their big newspapers, primarily Left -- banging America, banging, banging, banging…” – Bill O’Reilly, Radio Factor July 28, 2004

Reality

The CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) is what is known as a Crown Corporation, which is owned by the people of Canada – not the government (how socialist!) Although it is publicly funded through tax revenues, it is, by virtue of its charter, totally and completely independent editorially. And it rips the Prime Minister and the Canadian government a well-deserved new one on a daily basis.

Is it left? I hadn’t noticed. One thing I do appreciate about CBC news, is that they offer the facts of a story without telling me what to think about it. No opinion pundits shouting down dissent, no blatant bias that I’m aware of. Another thing, they provide world news – something sorely lacking in American broadcasting.

I also have to say, in all my life up there, some fifty years, I’ve never encountered any America banging. Or is having a different view “banging” in O’Reilly’s narrow perception? Criticism is not an attack, it is an opinion. (Amazing how some can dish it out, but can’t take it.)

Spin

O’Reilly also went on to say that the CBC holds a monopoly in Canada and is worried about the competition Fox will provide.

Reality

There are three major networks in Canada, CBC, CTV and Global. On top of this, anyone with basic cable will also get ABC, CBS, NBC, (US); CNN (Canada not exactly the same as CNN in the U.S,-- they actually give news about Canada) and the BBC (UK.) Yes, the BBC, that equally “far left,” equally publicly funded network which dominates the airwaves of that great ally, the UK.

Oh, and since 2005, the US feed of Fox News.

Now, we can get a "fair and balanced" view.

Canadian Minister of Defense speaks on the issue

The long awaited apology

Nice condescending, glib and smirking apology, don't you think?

Canadian Teenagers Piss Off O’Reilly

In 2004, another ridiculous pile of doo-doo hit the fan. For some completely unfathomable reason, Can-West News Services commissioned a poll to elicit the opinions of teenagers in Canada on political matters and world affairs. One telephone poll taken of youth between the ages of 14 and 18 were asked their view on the United States as a force for a) good or b) evil.

I’m not kidding. Though why this was done is beyond me.

Think about it. You’re a teenager, say fifteen years old and some crusty old dude calls you up and asks that question. Being a cool kid and pretty much in hate with the world, you raise your middle finger and say what? Guess?

Well, apparently 40% of the total of 500 kids polled said evil.

Now, who in their right mind would even pay attention to such crap, let alone take it seriously, and then go so far as to apply such skewed statistics to the entire country?

Bill O’Reilly, that’s who. Read his response.

Spin

Here’s his closing:

“America has a provable history of freeing oppressed people all over the world in fighting evil dictators. Canada should be ashamed that so many of its young people are flat out ignorant. And Americans should wise up and realize we are living in a changing world. Old friends are not necessarily true friends.”

Reality

These were 500 kids between the ages of 14 and 18 – kids! Why not ask them if their school and parents are evil? To suggest that Canadian society is reflected in these ludicrous results is… is… just plain stupid.

There is so much in O'Reilly's words with which to take exception, particularly the idea that Canadians have done nothing to free others.

"...Pardon me as I object to the anti-American foreign press and bums like Chirac in France and Chretien in Canada.... France has freed almost no one. Ditto Canada...."

There isn’t a town anywhere in Canada without a cenotaph where the names of those who died on foreign shores fighting for the freedom of others are inscribed. In fact, in both WWI and WWII, Canada gave a far greater number of lives in proportion to our populations than America did, and fought a lot longer. Korea, Cyprus, Bosnia, Somalia, Afghanistan – Canada was there. Yep, for Vietnam and Iraq we took a pass, no thanks, no reason to die there. Rwanda – Canada was there. America was not. Who supervised the first free elections in Haiti? Canada.

As to old friends not being true friends: think back to 9/11 and how Canada laid herself vulnerable accepting all those flights still in the air into Canadian airports; the truckloads of blood, of medical teams, of supplies, of search and rescue personnel, assistance of all kinds sent. And Katrina – Canadians were in parts of Louisiana before American rescuers – did you know? No, you didn’t. That was abundantly clear when you spewed all that “misinformation” about how nobody helps poor America, back then (Canada in particular.) Canada sent money. Alberta alone sent five million dollars to Louisiana, and assistance continues today. Canada built houses. One Canadian built an entire town for the poor dispossessed. Canada opened her universities to students from Louisiana and Mississippi. We even took in the abandoned dogs. And you can bet your bottom dollar more Canadian help will be shortly arriving for the victims of Irene. We’re that kind of people.

No, Mr. O’Reilly, if we listened to you, Canada would be the one to say old friends are no longer true friends.

Shame on you for being so flat out ignorant!

Now for the great finale - a boycott of Canada

In 2004, two soldiers, PVT Hinzman and PVT Hughey, scheduled for deployment to Iraq, arrived in Canada requesting refugee status. Both had enlisted prior to the beginning of the war. PVT Hinzman had applied for and been denied status as a conscientious objector, requesting a non-combatant designation.

One supposes these men were counting on that long tradition of Americans in trouble seeking refuge in Canada, one that goes back to the very beginnings of both countries and hit a high during Vietnam. So numerous are they that when we meet an American in Canada who’s been there since 1970, we pretty much assume him to be a draft dodger.

While there is an argument for providing refuge to those who were drafted, that argument seems to lose strength when the subject has enlisted. If you enlist in the armed forces, you should expect to go into combat if your country is at war. But… oh what to do, what to do.

It was and is a ticklish situation.

You see, the potential punishment for desertion in a time of war can be the death penalty – unlikely, perhaps, but possible. Canada has qualms about extraditing those facing the death penalty, though exceptions have been made. Charles Ng, the serial killer for one. There’s a fine line between holding to high principles and becoming the repository for the world’s murderers and having to keep them and feed them. Expensive!

On the other hand, who wants to irk the world's most powerful military force? Not poor little Canada with only 33 million people, out-manned 10 to 1. Nor do we want to irritate our largest trading partner. But principles are principles.

Oh -- what a dilemma.

No solution has been forthcoming.

Here it is 2011 and the situation right now is this: These two soldiers are not yet deserters, as they haven’t been convicted of desertion by the American courts. Therefore, as they are still considered innocent, their extradition is not mandatory. They are not yet refugees, as the wheels of this process grind very slowly – particularly if Canada wants them to grind slowly. So they are still in Canada, but in limbo.

It is apparent that rather than force a diplomatic impasse, both countries are procrastinating their way out of the messy situation.

But not Bill O’Reilly. The horse he’s riding on this issue is even higher than the one he rode on Casey Anthony. Yes, the great man has decided he knows best.

Spin

April 27th, 20004 and Bill’s guest on the show was a columnist, Ms. Heather Malyk, from non-other than that “far-left” rag, The Globe and Mail,.

Here is the verbatim transcript:

O'REILLY: Now if the [Canadian] government -- if your government harbors these two deserters, doesn't send them back ... there will be a boycott of your country which will hurt your country enormously. France is now feeling that sting.

MALLICK: I don't think for a moment such a boycott would take place because we are your biggest trading partners.

O'REILLY: No, it will take place, madam. In France ...

MALLICK: I don't think that your French boycott has done too well ...

O'REILLY: ...they've lost billions of dollars in France according to "The Paris Business Review."

MALLICK: I think that's nonsense.

Two days later, on April 29, O’Reilly announced:

"A new BillOReilly.com poll asks you the question will you boycott Canadian goods and services if that country does not return two American deserters who are being glorified by some of the Canadian media?'"

Reality

First: According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in February 2004, the United States imported $2.26 billion in French goods and services, up from $2.18 billion in February 2002. So I don’t think O’Reilly’s boycott has done much good. Do you?

Second: I checked this myself since the information came from a “far-left” source. The periodical O’Reilly quotes does not exist.

"A Google.com search revealed no mentions of "Paris Business Review," "Revue des Affaires de Paris," or any similar French name. There is a journal called "European Business Review," which is published in England; however, over the past two years, "European Business Review" has not mentioned an American boycott of France."

Third: Contrary to the oft quoted on Fox phrase “Canada needs us. We don’t need Canada.” Here’s what O’Reilly wants you to boycott:

Oil – of the twenty million barrels of oil the US consumes each and every day, Canada supplies 18%, (Mexico is next at 11.4%, Saudi Arabia 11%, Venezuela 10%, Nigeria 8.4%) Canada’s share is expected to rise dramatically with the increased development of the Oil Sands in Alberta. Boycott? Well I’m sure China would like to buy our oil.

Natural Gas – Canada supplies 87% of America’s natural gas usage. Boycott that and a lot of people will be cold next winter.

Electricity – Canada and the US share an interdependent electrical grid. Canada’s output exceeds her usage. America’s usage exceeds her output. Boycott? Hope y’all like sitting in the dark.

We could go on with the list: food, parts, machinery, paper… but why bother? One million dollars in goods and services cross our border every minute. Boycott – yeah right!

And what if Canada were to boycott you back? 23% of all American exports go to Canada, more than the US sells to the entire EU with five times the population.

But this whole exercise is laughable. Ain't never gonna happen!

What we have here

What we have here is a silly situation. Bill O’Reilly is a TV personality who is apparently starting to believe his own shtick – kind of pathetic, actually. I don’t dislike him for what he believes. I dislike him for how he treats people, his bullying, his bombast. I think he’s an arrogant prick.

Still, something bothers me greatly. Why is this man using his media position to attempt to destroy a relationship between two nations as closely entwined as Canada and the U.S? What is his motive?

And is he succeeding? Are the American people so gullible as to buy one man’s particular brand of xenophobia? If so, what will be the result?

I’ll tell you one thing. I hear much in America about anti-Americanism in Canada, but I’ve never personally encountered it, even though I'm married to an American, and I know many Americans living in Canada. Neither have they. Criticism, yes, undoubtedly. Differences of opinion, yes, naturally. Biased hatred, no, only in the most ignorant. Remember, Canada is a free nation and Canadians may hold whatever opinions they choose.

But I certainly run into a lot of hate-Canada speech here, and it is out on your airwaves, your radio, television and internet.

Most of it is vile stupidity, but for those who don’t think for themselves, like children between the ages of 14 and 18, is it then surprising they respond to it?

Like it or not, we share the world’s longest border between any two countries. We share history; we share populations; we share wealth. We are as bound up with each other as any two societies can be.

One is ten times bigger than the other in population and is the most powerful nation in current history. The other holds natural resource wealth unrivaled in the world: the planet’s second largest reserve of oil, 20% of the world’s fresh water; untapped mineral wealth. In fact, Canada is so sparsely populated, the extent of that wealth is unknown. A situation ready made for partnership. The wisest people know this; that’s why we’ve worked so closely together. 70% of our massive trade is intra-organizational. We even share businesses.

So we differ in how we’ve decided to organize our societies. So what?

Why does O’Reilly manufacture a threat in that? What is this need to cast America as a victim? Are Americans really that suspicious of the rest of the world? Does O''Reilly want an entirely insular America?

Or is he just another sh*t-disturber out to strengthen his ratings, pandering to the worst in man in order to earn that $10 million a year Fox pays him to do his routine?

Is he really so desperate to sell more copies of Pinheads and Patriots?




New -- a post script

A kind reader sent me this. Said it seemed to fit.

Robin Williams in Blame Canada

More by this Author


Comments 18 comments

Uninvited Writer profile image

Uninvited Writer 5 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

Excellent hub. Thankfully I don't have to listen to O'Reilly...

We now have a TV news station they are calling "Fox North", they just started up this year. They are called SUN TV; the Sun is a conservative tabloid newspaper in Canada. So, they are trying to emulate Fox.


Stump Parrish profile image

Stump Parrish 5 years ago from Don't have a clue, I'm lost.

The problem here is that you chose to do some fact checking and verifying. No self respecting foxtard will ever stoop to that kind of behavior. It amazes and sickens me to listen to people support this kind of crap. Most Americans these days can't even spell the word truth anymore. They have no interest in it and will fight anyone who attempts to prove anything to them. Another prblem with this country is that for a large portion of the people in it, The world ends at our borders. As long as pieces of crap like this one continue to remind them of how execptional America i, they don't have face the truth. When a dickhead like this is what passes for a newscaster, their isn't much of a future lefy for this country. The level of intelligence in this country has sunk so damned far, we may never recover. The dumbest of the dumb actually believe they are the smartest in the country and Bill O'Lielly makes a fortune keeping them stupid. I'm going to stop before I say something I will really enjoy. Stupid is as Stupid does is the new American motto and the foxtards are living it every day of their lives.


Justsilvie 5 years ago

Excellent Hub!

It is really amazing what people will listen to and the whole time shaking their heads in agreement like those little dogs some people used to have sitting in the back windows of their cars.

A large portion of America is going brain dead, because you know all over the country there are fools who will repeat everything idiots like O’Reilly say, word for word…and it will be the truth... after all they heard on the TV or read it on the internet.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

I agree that O'Reilly is a pompous windbag, and he's just as apt to wrongly bash the right as he is the left. In his mind, he is never wrong.

Having said that, I notice that Canadians are far more likely to lecture Americans on their politics than the other way around. Perhaps that's because Americans pay little attention to the politics of our northern cousins.


Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

"Well, that's to be expected Peter, because we have 10 times as many people as you do. That translates to 10 times as many accidents, crimes, down the line." - What a genius ...

"Oh don’t take the names of our political parties seriously: Liberals, Progressive Conservative (try saying that with a straight face) and New Democrat Party. Believe me, there’s not an inch of difference among them." - And you are quite right in saying so. As of yesterday there has been talk about the NDP merging with the Liberal Party, since the latter almost disintegrated in the last election.

"Canadians should understand that storm clouds are gathering to the south…. One more cheap shot, one more unnecessary taunt, one more insult directed at the USA by you or your minions, and I'll give you a very accurate long-range forecast. It's gonna get mighty cold mighty fast west of the St. Lawrence." - Bill O'Reilly April 19, 2003 "

Well Mrs. Lynda - Bill is not the only one with such views. I commented on a blog relating to American politics (several days ago) and Mr. WillStarr told me that I have no legitimate reason to comment and that: "we'll just move our border far to the north, and take over Canada. Then you can have a legitimate voice."

I guess you are right, we better buy those F-35s.

"I was wrong. I am not pleased about it at all and I think all Americans should be concerned about this…What do you want me to do, go over and kiss the camera?" –on ABC's "Good Morning America," Feb. 10, 2004 - Did he kiss the camera? He should because his "wrong", together with that of everyone who supported the war in Iraq made the world a much unsafer place and created much more hostility than peace.

"That means if you're an adult and you have sex with a 15-year-old, that's fine." - How can this guy say crap like this on national television? Why are there no rotten tomatoes flying at his shiny forehead?

About the "War on Drugs" - it's a bloody joke. Here's the best documentary I can find on the topic which proves just that: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-823163481...

"I am the victim of a far left-wing smear campaign." - Ohh, poor little O'Reilly ... I'll send him a cookie and a box of tissue after I finish this comment.

"By the way, America had a similar law until it was struck down by the Reagan administration, thus making it legal to lie to the public." - This is just ... perfect for brainwashing people I guess.

"Hey you pinheads up there, I may be pompous, but at least I'm honest.” - Yes, Mr. O'Reilly: you are honestly the definition of what it means to be a viciously ignorant and judgmental person who lacks any ability to research the garbage that comes out of your mouth. Awesome!

“America has a provable history of freeing oppressed people all over the world in fighting evil dictators." LOL!! Do people in the States still buy &%^$ like this?

"Who supervised the first free elections in Haiti? Canada." That was a failure - we should have kept the money or sent it some other place where corruption isn't such a problem - it got nothing done, in my opinion.

I actually think that we do get "a "fair and balanced" view" of news, up here. We now get to see the news programs from UK, Canada, U.S. and finally to my excitement Al-Jazeera is also available as of last year. I am just curious, can Mr. O'Reilly watch Al-Jazeera where he is because I know, in that free country of his only a few cities are allowed to carry the network?

"What we have here is a silly situation." - LOL Nobody could have said it better Mrs. Lynda!

I will leave it at that as I think it is a fitting ending. Cheers and all the best! Thank you for writing!


Jeff Berndt profile image

Jeff Berndt 5 years ago from Southeast Michigan

Lynda, another brilliant hub. Once upon a time, back when I was in college, our model UN team drew Canada for the country it would represent. We spent many hours researching Canadian policies--in Canada! The University of Windsor was just across the border and everyone there was very kind to us, even--and in some cases, especially--after they found out we were American students researching Canadian politics.

And of course, we learned that Canada has its own priorities and its own ideas about what should be done about world affairs, and we regularly confounded the Model UN team representing the US. "We're supposed to be allies!" they would say when we voted against them. "Ally doesn't mean lackey," we would answer, and then in the evening we'd go have a few sodas together and talk about tomorrow's agenda. Good times. I wish there had been some actual Canadians at the conference, though. Everyone there was an American student.

I find it very telling that Fox can't broadcast in Canada because of a pesky regulation against "false, biased, or misleading news." It seems to me that this law should never have been struck down in the US. It doesn't restrict anyone's freedom of speech--it merely ensures that broadcasters would have to clearly label which parts of their shows were opinion and which parts were factual. Some (not nearly enough) news sources in the US still do this.

Anyway, great hub as usual; rated useful and up.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Hi Uninvited Writer (and here you're an invited writer) Yes, I've heard of Sun. Lucky you! Thanks for commenting here.

Hi Stump Parrish, Certainly, Americans in general seem to have lost the ability to think for themselves and question. Perhaps it's because I've never yet seen an important news story not accompanied by a panel telling the viewers what it means. Used to be journalism was the facts, leaving you to decide the rest for yourself. I also think this is partly due to the insular nature of American society. They are not interested in anything outside of their own land, and as a result have no basis on which to judge the veracity of what they're told about the world. Thanks so much for commenting.

Hi Justsilvie, I'm also acquainted with people who lap up such nonsense and hold it as fact. I've learned not to speak about anything but the weather in such company. If O'Reilly said it, it's 100% gospel. My client is one of those. She tells me O'Reilly is brilliant, but then she's 86 and in the early stages of dementia.... Thanks for commenting.

Hi WillStarr, I watch O'Reilly four times a week -- how often I look after this particular client, and have for several months. I have never heard him bash the right, but often hear him use such phrases as "far-left idiots" and "bleeding-heart liberals" and "anti-American" and "unpatriotic" and even "treasonous" when discussing anything or anyone of a progressive nature. In his new book where he lists those he thinks are "bad" for America, he lists only one conservative: Ann Coulter. So no, I can't say his view is "fair and balanced." But I agree wholeheartedly with the rest of your statement.

I also agree with your second. The majority of Americans pay little attention to the politics of ANYONE outside of their own country, unless they go to war with them. And what they do know is likely to be based on misinformation that fits the agendas of someone like O'Reilly.

However, Canada is greatly affected by the politics of the US, though we'd often rather not be. As Pierre Elliot Trudeau once remarked, "Sharing that long border with the US is like sleeping with an elephant. You feel every twitch and groan, but he doesn't even know you're there."

O'Reilly once said Canadians had grown too big for their britches for daring to hold opinions on America. Amazing, isn't it?


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Hi Mr. Happy, Thank you for your comment. I hadn't heard about the NDP merging with the Liberals because the Libs got so pounded! What does that mean for all the voters who voted NDP? They didn't vote Liberal, and now they may as well have it seems. But Que Sera! if won't make a whit of difference, anyways. As to Mr. WillStarr's comment, it amazes me how often Americans say "we should invade your country." The playground bullies at work. It seems to be the line of last resort in any debate -- probably because so many have forgotten what debate is, or should be. "We're gonna take you over!" They have no idea of how difficult a task that would be, not knowing the Canadian mindset very well. But, on the other hand, it would probably do a world of good to America, all those non-programmed minds integrating into the political arena.... What a joke! Americans seem to forget Canada has a vested interest in the politics of this nation -- they drag us after them with every turn, no matter how hard we stomp on the brakes. Thanks for your comment.

Hi Jeff -- How nice to hear form you, an American who is knowledgeable about Canada. So few are. The idea seems to be "you're not important to us." Not many Americans understand just how important Canada really is to American well-being and wealth. I've tried to give the tip of the iceberg here. But Canadians are basically a low-profile society, quietly going about being Canada, and I don't think they mind so much. It's not as if Canada has been singled out; Americans don't know much about any country, it seems -- nor want to. I read somewhere that fewer than 6% of Americans ever travel outside their nation. Amazing! I'm sure it must be at least 60% in Canada -- we love to wander. Anyway, thanks so much for this comment.

Thanks all, Lynda


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 5 years ago from Dallas, Texas

This is a subject that rings true to your heart Lynda. I wish I understood all the political maneuverings and power struggles and political viewpoints like you do. This coming election year I will definitely vote and I believe a lot of folks like me will do so this time. We are ready for some real leadership and less finger pointing and blame distribution.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Hi Peg. I just hope there's someone who can provide that "real" leadership on the ballot. Things aren't looking very favorable for that at this point. Not a lot of substance in the field. Anyway, this wasn't so much about politicians as it was about "celebrity" and ignorance. Thanks so much for stopping by.


drbj profile image

drbj 5 years ago from south Florida

Lynda, this is an incisive portrait of Mr. (and I use the title loosely) O'Reilly. Observation of the subject leads me to believe he may suffer from an advanced case of megalomania. Those with this personality disorder invariably believe that they are superior to everyone else, especially regarding wisdom and intelligence.

Superior writing and documentation, m'dear. Rated up.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Thank you, drbj. Megalomania? Perhaps. Paid to send out a certain message for reasons we hope will one day be uncovered -- more likely. Most likely of all: a combination of both. Thanks for commenting. Lynda


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 5 years ago from Taos, NM

This is an excellent hub and I mean excellent. I have to give you alot of credit for watching Bill O'Reilly. I can't even bear to watch him or FOX News. He is a propogandist of the worst kind, I believe no better than Adolf Hitler. But, at least you are open-minded to watch him. I can't be bothered with a hothead like him. So kudos on another well-written hub!


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Thanks Suzette. I don't watch him out of choice. I care for the elderly in their own homes, and my client believes O'Reilly is "brilliant" -- but then she's 86 and in the early stages of dementia. Thanks for reading. Lynda


BrightMeadow profile image

BrightMeadow 5 years ago from a room of one's own

Hi Immartin,

I enjoyed your article-- boy, are you thorough! I recently heard on the radio that Canada is actually the number 1 most respected country in the world. I am in favor of socialized health care in the US-- Incidentally, US soldiers already enjoy socialized health care-- and frankly am more than a little taken aback when people here seem to think that Obama is the anti-christ for proposing health care reform. I'm up for an intelligent debate on that or any subject, weighing the pros and cons, but was rather disturbed by some of the heated and completely wild things coming from people's mouths about death commities and the like. I'm simply in favor of people not loosing their homes when major illness strikes.

I also appreciated your mention of the Iraq war. The truth is a lot of Americans -- and the UN, too, as I recall-- were not in favor of the US going to war in Iraq. I'm not terribly political and really had no strong opinions about President Bush until the Iraq war.

I think the most intelligent opinions are formed when each side can state their case with out all the name calling and school yard antics. I can't watch political debates for pretty much that reason.

I am curious about the law you mentioned that was struck down during the Regan administration that makes it legal to lie. Just wondering if you could point me in some direction so that I can look it up for myself.

Thanks again for a well written article.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

Hi Bright Meadow. Thanks for reading and for your thoughtful comment. Like you, I'm up for intelligent debate on any subject but not for diatribe and abuse. Nor do I consider simply repeating the same idea over and over intelligent debate.

The law regarding truth in broadcasting can be found with any google on the subject, so I'll leave it with you.

Thanks again. Lynda


Genna East profile image

Genna East 5 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

Unfortunately, Mr. O'Reilly is wrong about a number things. I once tried (and the operative word here is “tried”) to read one of his books. It was fraught with convenience thinking and rather pompous and vague generalizations. For example, when he began to address the problems we Bostonians encountered with the infamous “Big Dig,” it was quite evident he didn’t do his homework. It's not that he is wrong, it's just that he is so adamant about it. I stopped watching Mr. O’Reilly some time ago. Interesting article, by the way.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida Author

He is not only wrong, he is vehemently wrong. Also self-righteous, simple minded, pretentious and a windbag. I don't like the man, in case you didn't get that. The other night he said (and I quote) "The poor are dragging this economy down." This was followed by advice to put your children in private schools to avoid all the mandatory stuff. This man is totally out of touch with the reality of most of us -- to say the least.

Thanks so much for commenting and nice to meet you.

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